Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
We have the wonderful pleasure of welcoming one of my amazing critique partners who is always finding new ways to share stories with readers. Today we get to talk about her debut book, coming in January called First Day of Unicorn School, pre-order now!
Kaitlyn: Hi, Jess, thanks so much for stopping by today!
Jess: Thanks for having me!
Kaitlyn: First of all, I’d love to know why did you want to share this story with the world?
Jess: It’s bright, funny, and reassures everyone that they have a place in this world. I think we all need that right now.
Kaitlyn: I think you’re right; it’s a beautiful message all the time, but especially right now! We’ve seen many books about unicorns, how does yours stand out?
Jess: You’re right about there being A LOT of unicorn books. I think the things that set it apart, though, are the humor and the message of the book. There are some really ridiculous moments but also some moments of real emotion that I think kids can relate to.
Kaitlyn: Humor and heart are such a great combo. Your agent must have been super excited to represent you when she read this manuscript. How did you find your agent and how did you know she was the one?
Jess: I cold queried my agent Rena Rossner. I’d been following her on Twitter for some time and had a lot of respect for the way she cultivated her client list, but I didn’t know of any picture books she’d repped and wasn’t sure that she’d be into my kind of story. Still, Querytracker insisted she was open to them, so I gave it a shot. I was completely shocked when she offered! The thing that impressed me most during our call was her absolute confidence that she could sell my book. I knew it was going to be a long shot since, as you pointed out, the unicorn market is pretty saturated, but Rena never doubted me or my book. She’s been absolutely lovely to work with.
Kaitlyn: That’s the BEST! When someone believes in you and your story with such sureness, you know they’re the right person to represent you! If you had to pick a favorite spread that Mariano Epelbaum created for this story, which would be your favorite and why?
Jess: This is a hard question, because I think the illustrations are absolutely brilliant! Plus, there’s a twist to the story that I don’t want to give away. My favorite non-spoiler spread is this one. I love the family photos on the wall! They crack me up!
Kaitlyn: Haha, SO cute! If you can give authors some advice, what would it be?
Jess: MAKE FRIENDS WITH OTHER WRITERS. You need a team. You need a support group. You need other people to tell you your stuff is wonderful or craptastic as needed. The writing/publishing journey is stressful and you will need people who care about you to help you survive it.
Kaitlyn: Yes! And thank you for being one of my people for so long! Knowing you, I know you always have some brand new, wonderful idea happening, can you share what you’re working on now?
Jess: I have two picture books on submission right now – a silly one about a boy who moves into a haunted house, and a more serious one I wrote with my husband about singers who dress up like clowns and sing protest songs in his homeland of Spain. I’m also drafting a chapter book about a little girl with sensory processing disorder who’s obsessed with pirates and editing an adult science fiction short story for an anthology about parenting in SFF.
Kaitlyn: I love all those stories, and am so proud that you where the spark to that short story anthology flame! (Feel free to ask Jess more about how she started an anthology on Twitter!) Finally, if you could meet your favorite author, illustrator, or mathematician would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Jess: Normally I’m a sit and chat by the fire kinda girl, but after the last 8 months being at home all the time, I’m aching to go anywhere! With that in mind, it looks like Ame Dyckman and I are going on an adventure!
Kaitlyn: Woohoo! Sign me up for that adventure! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining us today to talk about your wonderfully fun book!
Jess: Thanks again for having me! It’s been super fun!
FIRST DAY OF UNICORN SCHOOL is the story of Milly, a donkey with dreams of attending the prestigious unicorn school. With a few creative photos in her application, she’s accepted and must make it through the school without anyone realizing what she really is: a donkey in a party hat.
Jess Hernandez is a writer, librarian, teacher and all-around word girl.
When not being used as a human canvas for baby food art, she writes books for kids. Her debut book, FIRST DAY OF UNICORN SCHOOL, illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum, comes out in Spring 2021 from Capstone.
Sometimes she writes essays, poems, and short stories for grown-ups, too. Jess lives in a very small, very LOUD house in Washington with her husband, their three children, a blind Labrador, and seven chickens.
Kaitlyn’s Review of FIRST DAY OF UNICORN SCHOOL
First Day of Unicorn School is an adorably quirky and wonderful book that shows we’re more alike than we think. The hilarious characters match the hilarious words and situations, and the end is the sweetest thing!
What to win a picture book query critique from Jess?
You can enter in the follow ways (each earns you another entry into the random drawing)
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you added First Day of Unicorn School to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of First Day of Unicorn School
- Share in the comments that you did a purchase request for First Day of Unicorn School at your library
- Quote retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tag three friends.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
PS. If you haven’t check out the Fall Writing Frenzy winners yet, stroll on over to Lydia’s blog and check it out, read the winning stories by looking them up on the entries page, and congratulate the winners with some #FallWritingFrenzy tweets!